Our writers offer their picks for the top shows of the autumn in music, dance, theater and visual arts.
-- The Albany Symphony Orchestra, still glowing from its Carnegie Hall success, opens its season with crowd favorites of Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, violinist Cho-Liang Lin and a world premiere from Clarice Assad of the famed Assad guitar family. Palace Theatre, Sept. 21.
-- The Knights, a fabulous chamber orchestra based in New York City, returns to the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall with two world premieres, along with some Stravinsky, Copland and Telemann. Sept. 29.
-- Brass quintet playing never sounded as good as the Harmonic Brass of Munich. First United Methodist Church, Schenectady. Oct. 6.
-- It’s a rare event to hear the incomparable soprano Dominique Labelle, a baroque specialist, with the Sarasa Ensemble in an all-Boccherini program. Union College Memorial Chapel. Oct. 20.
-- Flute players love to hear a great flute recital. There are none better than Canadian flutist Marina Piccinini, one of the hottest soloists on today’s circuit. Zankel Music Center, Skidmore College. Nov. 2.
— Gazette classical music writer Geraldine Freedman
-- The Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival will present a host of local talent on Sept. 7, including the winner of a talent contest held the night before, as well as Latin group Sensemaya and the Arch Stanton Quartet. Guitarist Charlie Hunter and pianist vocalist Oleta Adams round out the program at Albany’s Jennings Landing.
-- The free Lake George Jazz Weekend will be held on Sept. 14-15 in Shepard Park, and will feature local saxophonist Brian Patneaude along with such nationally known performers as Dave Liebman leading a big band, and vibraphonist Gary Burton’s new quartet.
-- A Place for Jazz will launch its five-concert series on Sept. 20 with a quintet led by trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and tenor saxophonist Jerry Weldon. Both have played here separately, but they unite for this concert at the First Unitarian Society of Schenectady.
-- Clarinetist Ken Peplowski will lead a big band at Proctors on Oct. 13. The band will re-create Benny Goodman’s famous 1938 Carnegie Hall concert in its 75th anniversary year.
-- The Empire Jazz Orchestra will present its fall concert on Oct. 15 at Schenectady County Community College. A highlight of the concert will be Duke Ellington’s “A Tone Parallel to Harlem.”
— Gazette jazz writer Tim Coakley
-- Farm Aid at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. It’s Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds; Jack Johnson, Amos Lee, Kacey Musgraves, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real; Bahamas, JD and the Straight Shot; Carlene Carter; and Pegi Young and the Survivors — a great lineup united in a great cause, but if you don’t have tickets already, you’re too late. The show sold out fast. Sept. 5.
-- Syd Straw at WAMC’s The Linda. A musically stunning and charismatically mesmerizing rock, soul and folk singer whose QE2 show years ago went straight into local legend. Oct. 5.
-- Phish at the Glens Falls Civic Center. Our part of the world’s favorite jam band (or maybe they’re tied with moe., playing Dec. 30 and 31 at the Palace) returns to where they played one of the most honored Halloween shows in rock history. They sold out REALLY fast. Oct. 23.
-- Elvis Costello at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Britain’s reigning rock chameleon, Costello boasts a songbook deep as John Fogerty’s, and he’s playing solo on this tour so the spotlight will be on his stylistically diverse compositions. And yeah, this one sold out pretty quickly too. Nov. 6.
-- John Fogerty at the Times Union Center. He’s playing Creedence Clearwater songs and nobody of his vintage works harder onstage than this all-purpose giant: songwriter, singer, guitarist and bandleader. Nov. 10.
-- Los Lobos at The Egg. These East LA veterans comprise one of the greatest bands rocking today, with range from traditional Mexican dances and songs to Grateful Dead grooves. Overwhelming skill and conviction. Dec. 3.
— Gazette popular music writer Michael Hochanadel
-- Camille Brown and Dancers at The Egg in Albany. Choreographer Brown raises the issue of racial stereotypes in her latest “Mr. TOL E. RAncE.” Inspired by Spike Lee’s film “Bamboozled” and Mel Watkins’ book “On the Real Side: From Slavery to Chris Rock,” the evening-length work combines comedy, live music, animation, theater and dance to explore tolerance — both what black performers had to tolerate and what today’s audiences still allow in the name of entertainment. Oct. 10.
-- Matthew Bourne’s “The Sleeping Beauty” at Proctors in Schenectady. British dance-maker Bourne’s smash on London’s West End is guaranteed to entertain theater and ballet-goers alike. This lavish remastering of Tchaikovsky’s favorite ballet is a Gothic tale of romance that completes the Tony Award winner’s theatrical trilogy of the great composer’s ballets. Oct. 15 to 20.
-- Shen Wei Dance Arts at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass. On the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky’s ground-breaking “The Rite of Spring,” Shen Wei Dance Arts revives its 2003 hit to the iconic music. The choreographer, who was responsible for staging the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, has created one of the most striking physical responses to this dramatic score. Oct. 26 and 27.
-- Mark Morris Dance Group at The Egg. Morris, one of today’s most musical of choreographers, will offer an eclectic array of his works, including the humorous “A Wooden Tree,” to the witty ditties by Scotsman Ivor Cutler, and the melodramatic “Jenn and Spencer,” a sparring duet, to Henry Cowell’s Suite for Violin and Piano. Nov. 14.
-- Albany Berkshire Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” again at The Egg. With so many “Nutcrackers” to choose from, there is one that is consistently excellent — and that’s Albany Berkshire Ballet’s. The difference is this: The company stages its holiday classic with full-scale, beautiful production values and dancers who are always capable and well-rehearsed. Dec. 21.
— Gazette dance critic Wendy Liberatore
-- The excitement has already started at Albany Civic Theater, where the area premiere of John B. Keane’s fiendishly chilling “Big Maggie” is now playing. Often cited as one of the best Irish playwrights of the late 20th century, Keane’s story of a recently widowed woman exerting her independence, and her control over her four children, is darkly funny, shocking and one of Keane’s best. Through Sept. 15.
-- Curtain Call Theatre in Latham does a great job mixing the new with the old, and this year is no exception, as they open their 14th season this Friday with comedian Lewis Black’s domestic comedy “One Slight Hitch.” Sept. 6 to Oct. 5.
-- The newly re-branded Capital Repertory Theatre — now known as “The Rep” — is primed for success with their season opener, David Ives’ sexy and provocative award-winning new play “Venus in Fur.” Dubbed “90 minutes of good kinky fun” by The New York Times, Ives is a master of farce and double talk. Oct. 1-20.
-- Frank Loesser’s classic fugue for gangster, “Guys and Dolls,” floats into the Schenectady Light Opera Company. Oct. 11-20.
-- After a successful production a few season’s back of Jean Giraudoux’s classic “The Madwoman of Chaillot,” the Theatre Company at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge is staging the French playwright’s seldom seen mermaid fantasy “Ondine.” Nov. 14-Dec. 8.
— Gazette theater reviewer Matthew Moross
-- OUTPUT, the second annual Graphic Design Regional, opens Tuesday at Albany Center Gallery, and Friday is day one for “An Armory Show: Michael Oatman and Kenneth Ragsdale” at the Opalka Gallery. Two of our artist superheroes, one from Troy, the other from Albany, join forces. Let the mind probe begin.
-- On Sept. 21, the Albany Institute of History & Art unwraps its much-awaited “GE Presents: The Mystery of the Albany Mummies!” Guest-curated by experts on ancient Egypt, the show reunites Ankhefenmut with his mummy cover and coffin lid, which traveled here from London and Vienna.
-- MASS MoCA is expanding again. On Sept. 27, the museum opens a 10,000-square-foot building devoted to German artist Anselm Kiefer. The centerpiece is “Etroits Sont les Vaisseaux” (“Narrow are the Vessels”), a 6-ton, 82-foot-long concrete sculpture that was on Kiefer’s front lawn in Connecticut until he was sued by a historic commission.
-- The International Acquisitions Exhibition for Artists With Disabilities, a juried show put together by Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital, is returning to Proctors from Oct. 1 to 25.
-- The Hyde Collection is host for the Mohawk Hudson Regional, opening Oct. 12. Dan Cameron, chief curator at the Orange County Museum of Art, selected 85 works by 75 artists. The exhibit spills over to The Shirt Factory, a few blocks away.
-- Breathe deep, seek peace. That’s how dinosaurs say hello in the Utopian world dreamed up by Rhinebeck artist James Gurney. On Oct. 27, the Arkell Museum of Canajoharie opens “Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney,” a show of nearly 50 original oil paintings organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum.
-- On Nov. 2, the New York State Museum unveils “Weather Event,” drawings, writings and paintings chronicling the life of visionary American artist Charles E. Burchfield. The exhibit is traveling from The Burchfield Penny Art Center at Buffalo State College.
— Gazette visual arts reporter Karen Bjornland